AstraZeneca has boosted its blossoming respiratory franchise by bagging rights to Synargen of the UK’s investigational asthma drug.
The treatment in question is SNG001, a novel, inhaled interferon beta in clinical development for treating respiratory tract viral infections in patients with severe asthma. Cashwise, the Southampton-headquartered company will bank $7.25 million upfront and potential development, regulatory and commercial milestones of up to $225 million.

Synairgen is also eligible for tiered royalties up to mid-teens on commercial sales, while  AstraZeneca will be responsible for future development costs. The latter will begin a Phase IIa study early next year.

Maarten Kraan, head of respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune innovative medicines, said that respiratory is a core therapeutic area for AstraZeneca “and a key growth platform for the company”. He added that SNG001 is “an innovative and targeted therapy that has, if  successful, the potential to offer a step-change in the treatment of severe asthma, and possibly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”.

Brodalumab impresses

Meantime, AstraZeneca and partner Amgen have presented positive data from a Phase II study of brodalumab for psoriatic arthritis.

The results, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and will be presented at the European League Against Rheumatism congress in Paris, showed that brodalumab significantly improved signs and clinical symptoms associated with the disease, including tender and swollen joints, at 12 weeks as measured by a 20% improvement in the American College of Rheumatology response criteria (ACR20).

The study also showed that many patients continued to improve, and that those improvements were sustained, through the first 52 weeks of the study. Lead investigator Phillip Mease, from the Swedish Medical Center and University of Washington, noted that similar degrees of disease improvement were seen in biologic-treated and biologic-naive patients.

Brodalumab, which targets the IL-17 receptor, is now in Phase III for with psoriatic arthritis and is also being investigated for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis (Phase III) and asthma (Phase II).